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September 29, 2016

Federal Prosecutor Mentors Bosnian Prosecutor through Justice Sector Education Program

International Justice Sector Education and Training fellows present their final change plans.

The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI’s) International Justice Sector Education and Training Fellowship Program (IJET) empowers judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other justice sector professionals to effect sustainable, long-term change within their institutions and their home country’s justice systems through their participation in a month-long program of training, study visits to peer institutions, and mentorship. Based on the knowledge and skills learned during the fellowship, IJET Fellows develop a Change Plan to be implemented in their home institution with the assistance of ABA ROLI and their mentor. The most recent IJET class, which concluded in August, included fellows from Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina who studied accountability and transparency mechanisms in American federal and state justice systems. The fellow from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sanin Bogunic, is the chief of the Economic Crime and Corruption Department in the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor’s Office, and he is working with a Change Team that includes fellow prosecutors to reorganize the department and increase prosecutorial specialization in order to improve the prosecution of economic crimes and corruption. Alex Rossmiller, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, mentored Bogunic, hosting him in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for several days and providing advice and assistance on the development of the Change Plan. Bogunic and the Change Team have begun the reorganization of the Economic Crime and Corruption Department, and Rossmiller will travel to Sarajevo this fall to work with the Change Team in person.

ABA ROLI recently interviewed Rossmiller to ask him about his experience volunteering with the IJET Program.

ABA ROLI: Describe your educational and employment background. What kind of law do you practice? What are your favorite things about your practice?

Alex Rossmiller: “I attended Middlebury College (in Vermont), where I studied political science with a focus on the Middle East, including studying in Istanbul, Turkey.  After graduating, I worked for the Department of Defense as an intelligence analyst, focusing on issues relating to terrorism and counterinsurgency, including a six-month deployment to Iraq.  Following my time at the Defense Intelligence Agency, I worked at a small national security think tank.  Next (came) New York University law school, after which I spent a few years at a litigation firm and clerking for a federal district judge.  I’m currently a federal criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, in the public corruption unit, which investigates and prosecutes a wide range of official misconduct.”

ABA ROLI: How did you learn about ABA ROLI? What made you interested in serving as a legal specialist/volunteer?

Alex Rossmiller: “I was approached by colleagues and by ABA ROLI staff about the programs, specifically regarding this year’s focus on strengthening structures and practices relating to corruption, and was excited to be asked to participate.  It has been rewarding and fun both to share the work that my office does in those areas and to collaborate with the program’s participants to develop, hone, and strengthen the plans for their goals.”

ABA ROLI: Describe your work with ABA ROLI. What program are you working with? What have the highlights been, and what future activities are you most excited about?

Alex Rossmiller: “I have been working with the ABA ROLI International Justice Sector Education and Training Program, cooperating with a public corruption prosecutor from Bosnia as well as two judges from Lebanon in their efforts to plan and effect sustainable change in their respective institutions and justice systems. Specifically, the corruption prosecutor, Sanin Bogunic, is working to reform and strengthen a nascent public corruption unit in the prosecutor’s office in Sarajevo.  It has been interesting and instructive to meet with him along with other judges, academics, investigators, and practicing attorneys to help fashion an effective and sustainable model for his work.” 

ABA ROLI: How did your educational and career experience prepare you for volunteering with ABA ROLI?

Alex Rossmiller: “My educational and career background was well-suited to volunteering with ABA ROLI – I was fortunate to have experience with other countries’ justice systems as well as work experience both analyzing and prosecuting misconduct.  Most significantly, working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York has been an incredible experience, and learning curve, on many of the issues addressed by the program and its fellows.  There’s no better place to engage with these topics than the Southern District of New York, and it has been great to combine our efforts with those of ABA ROLI for this valuable program.”

ABA ROLI: What advice would you have for American lawyers considering volunteering with ABA ROLI?

Alex Rossmiller: “Anyone able to work with ABA ROLI should do it.  It provides great opportunities for collaboration and education for all participants, Fellows and advisors alike, and advances the admirable goals of improving processes of justice across the globe.  Civil society is dysfunctional without fair and robust legal systems, including – perhaps especially – holding accountable those with the most power in any set of institutions, and being able to make any contributions to progress in those areas is an honor.”